Thursday, April 23, 2015

Alexander Travis founded churches in Evergreen, Belleville, Burnt Corn and Brooklyn

'Alexander Travis' historical marker in Evergreen, Ala.
Just before lunch on Monday morning, I was headed back to the office from a meeting with Johnny Brock at the County EMA Office when I noticed what looked like a relatively new historical marker that’s been erected outside the Conecuh Baptist Association building on Rural Street.

This was the first time that I’d ever seen this marker, and I’m not sure when it was put in place, but it looked brand new to me. I enjoy reading historical markers, so I swung back by to check it out. The marker, which was erected by the Alabama Historical Association, details the career of Alexander Travis, an early Conecuh County settler who had a huge impact on the county’s history.

There’s text on both sides of the marker, but both sides are identical. Here’s what they have to say:

“ALEXANDER TRAVIS: Aug. 23, 1790 – Dec. 2, 1852: In the fall of 1817, Rev. Alexander Travis settled his affairs in South Carolina and immigrated to Conecuh County, where, in the spring of 1818, Beulah Baptist Church was constituted. In rapid succession, Travis’ firm resolve and his devotion to the Gospel of Christ led to the successful constituting of other churches in Conecuh County including Belleville, Burnt Corn, Brooklyn, Owassa (now Olive Branch) and Evergreen, as well as others in the surrounding counties and even in Florida.

“In 1830, he was elected Moderator of the Bethlehem Baptist Association, a position he filled for 20 years. Rev. Travis’ ministry extended far beyond his ability to interpret the Scriptures to multiple congregations. His zeal for missions conclusively led to his being considered the father of the Baptist denomination in the area where he preached and baptized and adjudicated disputes with courage and unconditional love. Primarily known as a spiritual leader, Rev. Travis was also an advocate for education and was the first chairman of the Board of Trustees for Evergreen Academy.”

What I think is interesting about this marker is that it makes no mention of the fact that the Rev. Travis was the uncle of William Barrett Travis, a former Conecuh County resident who died in 1836 while commanding the ill-fated Alamo. Alexander Travis was also the brother of Mark Travis (William’s father), and Mark Travis bought the first land sold by the Sparta Federal Land Office when it officially opened in August 1823 (Some sources say 1822.)

Alexander Travis passed away in 1852, and you can still visit his grave today. He was buried in the Old Beulah Cemetery, which is south of Evergreen. While the old Beulah Church building is long gone, Travis’ gravestone is still there, not far from where the old church once stood.

If you’d like to see the historical marker described above, it can be found in front of the Conecuh Baptist Association building, which is located on the corner of Rural Street and Williams Avenue in Evergreen. This marker is one of many historical markers in Evergreen and will inform generations to come about this early Conecuh County pioneer.

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